Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dominican Pilgrimage to Walsingham

Yesterday, the Dominican Family in our Province had its annual pilgrimage to 'Little Nazareth', the beautiful and serene village of Walsingham in Norfolk where Our Lady appeared in 1061 and her Holy House was built. Pilgrimages to Walsingham have been held since then and after the Reformation was revived in 1897.

On the right is the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham which was carved in the Marian Year of 1954 and venerated by Pope John Paul II when he visited England in 1982. The original statue was taken from the Augustinian Priory of Walsingham in 1538 and burnt by the 'Reformers'.

The Symbolism of this statue of is as follows:

The Saxon crown and throne portray Mary as Queen;
The three-fold lily symbolizes virginity and purity;
The pillars of the throne represent the Church;
The seven rings on the pillars stand for the seven gifts of the Spirit.

The statue is enshrined in the 14th-century Slipper Chapel (below) which is part of the Catholic Shrine and one of the few surviving buildings from the medieval complex. Originally pilgrims took off their shoes here and walked the Holy Mile into the village to visit the Priory.

The Slipper Chapel is a tranquil place for prayer and contemplation; one lights a candle here and places a petition before Our Lady. Mass was celebrated in the modern Reconciliation Chapel, followed by a packed lunch to fortify us for the Procession!

Assembling in the gentle rain outside the Reconciliation Chapel (below), we set out down the Holy Mile to Walsingham. I don't think any of us were discalced but there was a sense of prayer as we said the Rosary and sang Marian hymns for the entire duration of the Procession into the village.

The Procession took us down a quiet country lane, past the ruins of the Franciscan Friary and into the village square (below), near the Catholic church which is being reconstructed. Here, we rested the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and prayed the 'Hail, Holy Queen'.

After the wet and windy walk, we were refreshed with tea and some finger foods and dashed off to visit the Anglican Shrine which has to be seen to be believed! It recreates the look of the medieval pilgrimage centre, and has a replica of the Holy House within the church. This is Anglo-Catholicism at its utmost and when we were there, 'Benediction' was being performed in the main body of the church. Below is the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham within the Holy House of the Anglican Shrine:

Below, I am standing in front of the gate house of the Augustinian Priory of Walsingham where the original Holy House and Shrine once stood. This is basically one of the few remnants of the medieval Priory and Shrine.

We made our way back to the Catholic Shrine and sang Vespers coram Sanctissimum, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It was a wonderful way to end a beautiful pilgrimage to Our Lady's National Shrine in England. The painting below shows Our Lady of Walsingham as the heart of the devotion of the English saints of old and long may Our Lady and this holy place be a focus for the English saints of this generation too! May she obtain for our Dominican Order and Province every grace and blessing and grant us increase in number, holiness, and vigour.

"O Alone of all women, Mother and Virgin, Mother most happy, Virgin must pure, now we, sinful as we are, come to see thee who art all pure; we salute thee; we honour thee as how we may with our humble offerings; may thy Son grant us, that imitating thy most holy manners, we also, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, may deserve spiritually to conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul, and once conceived never to lose him. Amen."

- A pilgrim's prayer composed by Erasmus when he visited Walsingham in 1511.


Anonymous TheresaMF said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

You have such tradition over there. Despite the attacks of the reformers, you still have centuries and centuries of Faith lying under your feet. Tangibly. Here in the States we have Dominicans (yay), but we just have asphalt and concrete and hours and hours of interstate highways. No shrines hallowed by barefoot medieval pilgrimages devoted to Our Lady. *sigh*

(Not that I'm all sad. I know we have good things too, and we share the challenge of living the Faith now and evangelizing the culture. :)

1:20 am  
Blogger Danny & Debbie Otero said...

Thanks so much for the report on this pilgrimage. We were sorry to have missed participating ourselves, but these photos helped to give us a taste of the experience.

1:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An echo of the above really -

I have just found your blog, and was so pleased to see that someone was blogging from Blackfriars, where my boyfriend and I used to go when we were at uni (sorry for the grammar). I was even more pleased to see photos of the pilgrimage. We had hoped to go, but instead were caught up in confirmation preparations at our new local church. I hope you all had a wonderful time.

I shall read on with interest! Do say hello to the brothers for me (and Luke, who used to serve sometimes for them)

(London, England)

2:07 pm  
Blogger Br Lawrence, O.P. said...

Thank you for your comments and I hope you can join us next year in Walsingham!

10:44 pm  

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